Sport Participation and Academic Performance in Young Elite Athletes
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AdolescenceYouthSport practiceHigh-performance athletesCognitive functionCognitive performanceSchool marksSchool gradesAcademic achievement
Pinto-Escalona, T... [et al.]. Sport Participation and Academic Performance in Young Elite Athletes. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 15651. [https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192315651]
Strong evidence supports physical activity and fitness levels being positively associated with cognitive performance and overall academic performance in youth. This also applies to sports participation. However, whether participation in sports at the elite level is associated with greater academic performance remains unknown. Thus, the present study aimed to compare the academic performance of young elite athletes to that of control students, as well as to analyze whether the type of sport mediates these results. Between 2010 and 2019, all students from the last Baccalaureate course of the Spanish Elite Sport High School—which also includes non-elite athletes and recreational athlete students, who were categorized as controls—participated in this study. Academic performance was assessed through both the grade point average of the two last Baccalaureate courses and through the average grades from the University Entrance Examinations. Athletes were categorized attending to different sport classifications. A total of 1126 adolescents (570 girls, 18.2 0.6 years) participated in the study, of which 483 and 643 were categorized as elite athletes and control students, respectively. Elite athletes attained a lower overall academic performance than controls (p < 0.001), which was confirmed for both sexes (p < 0.001). These differences were separately confirmed for most academic subjects (p < 0.05), as well as when attending to different sport classifications (all p > 0.05). Young elite athletes attained a lower academic performance than their non-elite peers, regardless of their type of sport. These findings highlight the importance of programs aimed at facilitating dual careers among young elite athletes.